Thursday, May 04, 2006

Death and Burial, Peasant Ireland in the 19th Century

Speaker: Seán S. Ò’Dùill, B.A., H.Dip.

The traditions of the West of Ireland were not exceptional. Many of these traditions were shared throughout Ireland in the 18th and 19th centuries and were part of a wider western European tradition. Some of the topics Sean will cover in his talk are:
- Importance of subject , Cult of the dead
- Animism, Pagan, Fairy, Supernatural
- Social purpose and disease prevention . . .

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- Signs of impending death, reading the mind of God or the Augaries
- The wake: respect and disrespect, wake games and hooleys
- The funeral, digging the grave, the "Hungry Grass"
- Three steps for mercy

Sean told the blog that his lecture is in English with contributions in the Hiberno-English as spoken in Louisburgh, County Mayo. He learned this form of English at his grandparents' knees. [For more on the Hiberno-English check Wikipedia]

Speaker Bio:

Sean O'Duill is a fluent Irish speaker from Louisburgh, Co. Mayo. He teaches in St. Declan's College, Cabra, Dublin and has published many articles in Irish and English on various aspects of Irish Folklore. He first lectured to genealogists and family historians at the 4th Irish Genealogical Congress in Trinity College Dublin. He lectured for the first time in America at the Irish Seminar sponsored by NEHGS in 2003. In 2004, he presented 3 folklore lectures to the International Genealogical Festival in Sligo.

He has been a speaker at the NGS Research trips to Ireland 1999-2002, New England Historic and Genealogical Society Research trips 2002-2003, and most recently was a featured speaker for the TIARA 2005 research trip to Dublin. In 2005 Sean was the keynote speaker at the National Genealogical Society Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Many in the audience were not of Irish descent, but they thoroughly enjoyed his presentation on matchmaking and marriage traditions.

The source of Sean's research is the 1937 Irish Folklore Commission School Project which was designed to gather and preserve the richness of Irish folklore through school children of 12 to 14 years. By interviewing their grandparents and neighbors in the parish, they were able to reach back to just after the famine period and record the treasures of their elders. Sean declares himself to be "of the folk" and as he is from within the tradition, he can bring to life the voices of the children, their ancestors and ours.

Sean's career as an educator of adults is developing while his career as teacher of high school students has just ended with his retirement. This next phase of his life will probably lead him to many places in Ireland, the U.S., Canada, and the wider world wherever there are Irish descendants keen to learn more about the lives their Irish ancestors lead and to understand the many traditions they brought from Ireland to their new countries.


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